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Determining the Best Location for your Wedding

While attending a bridal show this past weekend, I was excited to meet with many newly engaged brides.  Many of the brides I met, came with many questions as they were just starting their search and were curious about different options available for their wedding.  Hotels typically provide different offerings than a banquet hall or specialty venue which can make the process confusing when meeting with different venues.  I thought it would be great to provide a list of questions a bride should ask when setting up site visits to determine the best location for their wedding
1) How do I go about finding the best venue for my wedding?
A couple’s venue should reflect their personal style.  Ambiance, Room Size, Color Scheme and On-Site Amenities should all be a part of the evaluation process.  You should also inquire about cuisine and service style.   Be sure to verify the exact capacity of the room ensuring there is enough space for tables, chairs, dance floor, bars, etc
2) What is typically included in the basic room rental?
Some facilities include everything and some require you to rent amenities.  Room rental should include setup and tear down fees, labor, bartender fees, tables, chairs, dance floor, linen, china, glassware, silverware, table numbers and votive candles.  Be sure the inclusions are listed in your estimate.
3) What are the typical fees associated with booking a venue?
A minimum food and beverage revenue commitment is generally required for most venues.  An additional ceremony fee is generally required for on-site ceremonies.  All food and beverage packages are also subject to service charge and sales tax.

4) Are there additional fees to consider?
Typical extras may include a fee for cake cutting, corkage fee for wine or champagne, white glove service, valet parking, coat check and restroom attendants.  If a wedding reception runs longer than the number of hours it was booked for, ask if there are overtime charges.
5) What restrictions are there?
Check with the venue to find out their policy on candles, outside food and beverage being provided and the usage of hospitality rooms.  Ask before you make specific plans.

6) How many restrooms are available?
Be sure there are adequate facilities for the number of guests you plan to have and ask if you are sharing them with another event.  

7) What types of bar services are offered?
Bar options include open bar, consumption and cash bar.  When evaluating packages at each facility it is important to note the difference between bar packages to determine the true value of the overall package.
Understand who will take on liability concerning age limits.

8) Will there be another event taking place at the same time, or before or after my event?
Many facilities have events concurrently or within tight time restrictions.  Verify whether your event will be the only event that day and how much time has been allotted before and after your event , expecially if you will need additional set up time for vendors or if you may decide to extend your event.

9) Does the facility have the proper licenses and insurance?
The facility providing the bar service should have a liquor license as well as liability coverage.  Make sure they have certification from the Board of Health.  If you are hiring an outside caterer, make sure they have the licenses, liability coverage and Health Department certifications the facility and city requires.

10) Is there ample parking and what will it cost?
Is the parking free or in a nearby garage where they will need to pay?  Can reduced rates be arranged for guests for overnight parking in the hotel or during the event in a parking lot?  

11) How many hours should I book a venue for my wedding reception?
A typical wedding reception lasts about 6 Hours from the start of the cocktail hour until the end of the event.  An additional hour should be allotted for an on-site ceremony.  Wedding service begins with butler passed hors d’ oeuvres followed by a three course or four course plated dinner with champagne toast and wine service with dinner.  Dancing and open Bar follow after dinner.  The average start time for most couples is 6:00pm with an average ending time of 12:00
12) Do prices generally vary by day of the week or the time of the day?  If so, how and when do prices fluctuate?
As a full service hotel, our catering pricing fluctuates based upon time of year as well as day of the week.  Off Peak Season is generally December – March for most facilities.   Special Discounting is also available for Friday and Sunday Weddings.  Many brides will find that rentals such as linen, specialty chairs, floral, etc. are offered at discounted pricing at this time as well.
13) Is a microphone available for speeches, is this generally provided?
Microphones are available at an additional rate.  Many couples utilize the wireless microphone provided by their DJ or Band for Speeches.
14) How does it work with insurance for the event and what types of insurance are customary?
All vendors (third parties) contracted for the wedding must be licensed and insured.
15) If the event is cancelled or re-scheduled, is the deposit refundable?
At the time of contract, the bride and groom provide a deposit.  The deposit will be applied to outstanding customer charges, or in the event of cancellation, toward the applicable cancellation fee

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist

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